Alzheimer's Disease - Radio Program Report

June 09, 2004

What is Alzheimer's Disease (Ad)?

Ad is the most common form of dementia. Dementia is a loss of mental functions such as memory, language skills, thinking, and reasoning, it can even change personality and behavior. Ad severely interferes with a persons understanding have and ability to relate to reality. Ad is a form of dementia that is thought to be untreatable and the cause is still poorly understood.

What happens to the brain in Ad?

In Ad there is damage to the brains nerve cells, the nerve tissue becomes twisted and tangled forming the neurofibrillary tangles. A sticky substance called beta-amyloid causes tissues to clump together into plaques. The plaque and the tangles can damage healthy adjacent tissue, causing the brain to waste away and the brain matter to shrink. The disease is progressive and degeneration becomes worse with time.

The brain cells have a reduced ability to produce neurotransmitters - chemical messengers that allow brain cells to communicate with one another reducing brain performance, memory, and cognitive skills.

What factors increase my risk of developing Ad?

There are known factors and controversial factors. Here is the list:

What treatments are available for Ad?

There are many drugs available for Ad. There are scores more in various stages of research and development. The current class of drugs used to treat Ad inhibits an enzyme called cholinesterase. By blocking this enzyme acetylcholine levels are allowed to increase in the brain. In the brain of Ad patients acetylcholine levels are very low, and this neurotransmitter is very important for learning and memory.

Cholinesterase inhibitors include Aricept, Reminyl, Exelon, and Cognex. All of these drugs may temporarily improve memory in some patients with Ad, they help slow the progression of the disease but eventually there will be mental decline.

A recent study published in the December 2003 Journal Archives of Neurology showed that chelation therapy with a drug called clioquinol helped reduce levels of beta-amyloid in the blood and it is hypothesized that this may have an impact on beta-amyloid plaque production in the brain slowing down the progression of brain deterioration.

Is there any natural support for Ad?

Yes, a number of studies show that different nutrients may decrease the risk of developing Ad, and others may be beneficial to affected brain tissue.

Here are a list of studies and suggestions:

Other nutrient suggestions: